Assembly Hall, the Mound

Beyond the Spectacle: Indigenous Edinburgh

Assembly Hall, the Mound

Scotland EH1, United Kingdom

Created By: Beyond the Spectacle


The prolific Mohawk entertainer, Os-Ke-Non-Ton, gave a lecture here on December 2, 1930: "wearing the full ceremonial dress of a chief of his tribe, [he] stood throughout his recital on the clerks' table instead of on the platform floor, and in addition to singing, in the Indian language, war songs, love songs, and invocations, explained the various parts of the traditional Indian dress, and concluded his lecture by showing how to get fire by rubbing sticks together." (The Scotsman, Dec 3, 1930) Os-Ke-Non-Ton was one of many performers since the mid-1900s to have made their living through such performances of "Indianness," but he is perhaps one of the most deeply entangled in colonial images of the "Indian" since for much of the early 20th century he regularly performed in the annual staging at the Royal Albert Hall of Samuel Coleridge Taylor's operatic interpretation of Hiawatha. Yes, that's the American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's highly stylised and appropriative epic of the "vanishing Indian" set to music by Britain's first black composer, and performed almost entirely by a cast of non-Native dancers and singers in redface at the Heart of Empire...

You can see part of a performance he gave in England through the video link.

This point of interest is part of the tour: Beyond the Spectacle: Indigenous Edinburgh


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